Regardless of what you drive, all of us are feeling the pain of increased gas prices these days. It’s not even the start of the summer vacation price gouging yet, and prices are at or above $4.00 per gallon in a lot of states. Since most of us can’t afford to buy a new car just to save gas, Chevy and the Environmental Protection Agency have these tips to minimize your pain at the pump:
Tune Up: A properly tuned engine can boost fuel economy by about 4%, while a bad oxygen sensor can decrease fuel economy by up to 40%. Pay attention to things like a “Check Engine” light, and don’t forget to change your air cleaner regularly.
Pump Up: Check your tire pressure regularly, since under-inflated tires can reduce fuel economy by 3.3%.
Unpack: If you don’t need it, don’t carry it. When was the last time you used those jumper cables, anyway? An extra 100 pounds of cargo cuts fuel economy by 2 percent, and that empty cargo pod on your roof rack is costing you 5%.
Slow Down: Here’s a tough one to comply with, but fuel economy decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 MPH. Based on the EPA’s math, every 5 MPH over 60 costs you the equivalent of $0.24 more per gallon. If you drive at 75 MPH like most everyone else, that’s costing you an additional $0.74 per gallon.
Avoid Idling: Jacksonville, FL, is the land of traffic lights. Time it wrong, and an 8 mile cross town trip can take 45 minutes, most of which are spent idling at traffic lights. Fifteen minutes of idling can cost you up to a quarter gallon of gas, so shut it down when you can.
Chill Out: If you dive like you’re hauling unstable dynamite (slow starts, gentle braking), you can save up to 33% on the highway and 5% around town.
Roll ‘Em Down Around Town: At speeds under 45 miles per hour, the EPA says opens windows are 10% more fuel efficient than air conditioning. That’s not the case at higher speeds, since those open windows create drag and cost you fuel economy.
Plan Route: This is over-stating the obvious, but planning routes to minimize both distance driven and time spent sitting in traffic will boost fuel economy.
You can expect another price jump at Easter and still another at Memorial Day, so the big question is whether or not fuel prices will drop in between. Let’s hope so.